Back in September, Amazon-owned streaming platform Twitch announced it would be placing a ban on unlicensed gambling live streams. The ban went live on October 18, 2022, and has received mixed reviews from Twitch users and the general US public.
Where Has the Ban Come From?
The streaming service has long been aware of its users promoting gambling sites that are licensed outside of the US. In fact, it had already put a ban in place prohibiting streamers from sharing affiliate links and referral codes to these sites. However, a recent scandal involving high-profile streamers prompted Twitch to take decisive action against potentially harmful gambling promotion.
On September 18, 2022, prominent streamer ItsSliker admitted he had defrauded several high-profile streamers out of thousands of dollars (over $200,000, to be precise.) The creator attributed his desperate scam to a gambling addiction that he claims began from streaming Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Just three days later, Twitch announced its new gambling ban.
This move towards a safer platform also comes after pressure from other high-profile gaming streamers. Pokimane (Imane Anys), Mizkif (Matthew Rinaudo), and Devin Nash threatened a week-long boycott of the streaming service over Christmas, its most high-traffic time of the year. The three creators held a live stream where they discussed Sliker’s actions and the overall impact that gambling streamers have on impressionable young viewers.
Though their discussion clearly had a ripple effect, Nash Tweeted about his disappointment after the announcement was made. He noted that while it was a “step in the right direction”, the trio sought “a ban on luck-based gambling because it is objectively harmful to the website and its users”. However, Pokimane Tweeted in celebration of their victory, saying, “we did it y’all. Public pressure, tweets, raising awareness, it all matters”.
What Does the Ban Include?
As of last month, Twitch users have not been able to stream themselves slots, roulette, and dice games on unlicensed gambling sites. That is not to say that all gambling on chance-based games is banned – only gambling on sites licensed outside of the US. The ban does not include poker or sports betting, so Twitch users will still be able to stream themselves playing Texas Hold’em at Bitcoin casino sites like SlotsLV.
Who Will It Impact?
This ban is particularly damaging for crypto casinos that rely heavily on advertising from streamers and influencers to bring new members to the site. Twitch even mentioned a few of these sites by name that will no longer be welcome on the platform when it released its update via Twitter.
Since these casinos are not regulated in the US, they often struggle to secure the trust of US bettors. These internationally-regulated sites frequently partner with celebrities in an attempt to win over the general public. Now, however, Twitch has thrown a massive spanner in the works. While Twitch users can continue to film themselves gambling on the site’s sportsbook or poker platforms, they can no longer promote the casino.
Stake crypto betting site is a prime example of this. In the years since it first launched, Stake has been partnering with UFC athletes and sponsoring Premier League teams left, right, and center. However, its partnership with famous rapper Drake catapulted the site into the limelight. The Canadian star filmed himself placing dozens of million-dollar-plus bets on roulette games using the Stake.com platform. By August 2022, he had wagered over $1 billion at the site.
Many of his followers speculated from the beginning that a partnership was brewing, but Drake himself made no mention of it. The partnership was finally (and unsurprisingly) announced in March 2022, and thousands flocked to the site. Though it is possible the site would have stumbled upon this level of popularity eventually, it is doubtful. Without streaming with Drake on Twitch, Stake would most likely be a relatively unknown online casino.
Going hand-in-hand with the casino’s loss of Twitch partners, streamers will now lose out on potential sponsorship revenue. Way back before Twitch’s ban on affiliate links and casino promotions, prominent streamers could make thousands of dollars a month in sponsorships. This revenue fell away when the promotion of links and referral codes was prohibited. They now stand to lose even more as they cannot stream themselves playing at the casino.
Twitch takes a 50% cut of every subscription to the site (though the biggest streamers can negotiate a 70/30 split.) Moreover, there are many Twitch subscribers who use the platform to watch their favorite streamers gambling. It is unsurprising, then, that many Twitch subscribers abandoned the site once the new policy came into play. In just over a month, it lost 20% of its viewership.